To thrive local economies must evolve, keeping the institutions and retailers that are fundamental to the community but look at new ways to bring consumers and businesses to local areas.
I think there will be a rise in three types of local businesses, local businesses that will create unique community identities.
The Creative Economy
In the 2002 bestseller The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida hit on what now seems blindingly obvious: that the “clustering force” of young creatives and tech workers in metropolitan areas was leading to greater economic prosperity.
He hypothesised in order to make your local community thrive make your town a place where hipsters want to be. Championing a vibrant music and arts scene and a lively cafe culture will get the creative people and creative local businesses come flocking and lead to the economic prosperity of your local community.
This needs to be done carefully, however, to avoid gentrifying communities and pushing out existing residents, but done correctly encouraging creative local businesses to set up shop in your community could also lead to the traditional local businesses reaping the rewards.
The Experience Economy
Consumers are undergoing a shift in what they value most. Instead of accumulating things, more and more consumers are opting in to create memories through experiences.
This is an opportunity not only for the for the high street to diversify, it is also an opportunity for businesses to expand their offering for example the deli’s that do frequent tastings are offering people an experience that could lead to sales.
Encouraging the rise of the right experiential local businesses can also dramatically improve the mental and physical wellbeing of community members.
Sometimes the experience economy and the sharing economy are combined but I like to separate them due to the sustainable benefits of the sharing economy.
Renting out assets is nothing new but with the advent of the Internet it is easier to connect owners and seekers with their items. Sharing economy means “What is mine is yours, for a fee” and is becoming more and more popular across all kinds of assets: accommodation, transportation, tools, toys and clothes.
The main features of a sharing economy business model are:
Access instead of ownership: rather than buying an asset, the seeker rents it from someone else
A platform brings together owners and seekers and facilitates all processes between them
The business / platform itself does not possess any of the assets on offer.
I believe that getting the right blend of local businesses is paramount to building thriving, resilient local economies and done correctly with the right support can create town centres where people want to be and economies that benefit everyone.